The 2014 NBA Finals have just started, but for 28 other teams, offseason mode is in full force. With every offseason, players come and go, either through trade or free agency, as teams attempt to find the missing pieces that could vault them into a playoff contender or a championship chaser.
Perhaps no star has been in the news more than Kevin Love, who reportedly no longer wants to play in Minnesota after six seasons and zero playoff appearances. It’s hard to blame him though, especially if he wants to play on a contending team in a larger market. After all, he won’t be in his prime forever.
Love still has one year left on his deal and the Timberwolves desperately want to keep him. Flip Saunders, the team’s part-owner and president of basketball operations, made himself head coach on Thursday in an attempt to persuade Love he can create a contending atmosphere. But if Love remains adamant about leaving, the team needs to seriously consider trading him, or risk losing him for nothing after next season.
The All-Star forward is coveted by many teams around the league, and for good reason. He is a double-double machine and averaged over 26 points and 12 rebounds per game this season. That’s elite production.
The Boston Celtics, who fell from contention after losing their Big Three, are interested in Love. The forward visited Boston and spoke with Rajon Rondo, but it doesn’t appear the Timberwolves are likely to move Love because the team isn’t interested in what the Celtics could offer in a trade, per ESPN Boston’s Jackie MacMullan:
According to team and league sources, that won't happen any time soon because the Timberwolves are less than enamored with what Boston can offer them.
The No. 6 pick isn't quite so sexy. The Celtics can offer only some combination of that pick and the following: the valuable future Brooklyn picks, the 17th pick this year, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Keith Bogans' expiring $5.05 million contract (if they can do it before July 1).
But don’t count out the Sacramento Kings, who are willing to trade for Love, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, even without a guaranteed extension in order to pair him with DeMarcus Cousins. What a formidable frontcourt duo that would be.
What will Houston do with Parsons?
The Houston Rockets are expected to decline the option on Chandler Parsons’ contract, which would make him a restricted free agent but give the team the chance to match any potential offer to the sharpshooter this summer, per Basketball Insiders' Yannis Koutroupis.
Parsons is a valuable commodity for the Rockets, as he averaged over 16 points per game and provided another perimeter scoring threat alongside James Harden.
Harden recognizes how important Parsons is to the future of the franchise, as he told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen:
Houston’s move has the potential to save the team money in 2015, which is especially important considering the team hopes to sign another star this offseason to pair with Harden and Dwight Howard. With the Rockets declining the option, Parsons would no longer be an unrestricted free agent next year.
The team would be wise to keep the ex-Gator, but would rather do so without having to outbid other organizations in a competitive free-agent market.
Lance Stephenson's value
Lance Stephenson is great at playing basketball. He is also great at being a nuisance and stirring debate.
He regularly fills up the stat sheet with averages of 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, including a league-high five triple-doubles. However, he also frequently makes headlines for his peculiar behavior, which was put on display for everyone to see when he blew in LeBron James’ ear and gave him a little smack in the mouth during the Indiana Pacers' series with the Miami Heat.
Thus, it is a bit of a mystery as to what type of contract the free agent deserves. Per Sheridan Hoops’ Michael Scotto, some league executives believe the shooting guard warrants $5 million per year, while his agent, Alberto Ebanks, thinks Stephenson deserves twice that much because his play should speak for itself.
According to Scotto, one Eastern Conference scout believes Stephenson’s contract will fall somewhere in the middle:
Teams will be interested, but cautious at the same time. Worst offer he will get is a full mid-level exception, which is about four years, $23 million. I would say the best offer is probably around $8-9 million per year, but it might not be a four-year offer.
There is no question that Stephenson is talented, and his contract needs to reflect this unique production on the court. But he is also immature, as Scotto discusses, and his potential employers recognize that. This could diminish his value, especially to organizations that prize team unity.
Based on the latest rumors, it's clear there's a wide range of differing opinions, so it will be interesting to see how his situation unfolds.
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